After several German cities withdrew their permission for public Turkish referendum rallies to take place, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Germany was resorting to Nazi-era tactics.
“Your practices are not different from the Nazi practices of the past,” Erdogan said at a women’s rally in Istanbul, reported state-run Anadolu Agency.
His comments come ahead of an April 16 constitutional referendum that would see him receive considerably more power by doing away with the post of prime minister.
He did not appear to elaborate on precisely how the rally cancellations were similar to actions taken by the Nazi government under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler, but he did suggest that Germany was acting undemocratically.
“You will lecture us about democracy and then you will not let this country’s ministers speak there,” said an incensed Erdogan, adding that Germany was not “respecting opinion and thought.”
Escalating the tensions further, Erdogan later told a rally in Istanbul later on Sunday that he is prepared to come to Germany himself.
“If I want to, I will come to Germany,” Erdogan told the rally, warning: “If you don’t let me in or if you don’t let me speak, I will make the whole world rise up.”
It was not immediately clear if the Turkish president has concrete plans to campaign in Germany for Turkey’s proposed constitutional change to a presidential system. ‘Simply outrageous’
Julia Klöckner, the deputy leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) said Erdogan was “reacting like a defiant child who cannot have his way.” “The Nazi comparison is a new high point of intemperance. It is simply outrageous!” Klöckner told the German newspaper “Bild.”
The CDU politician urged Erdogan to apologize for his comments, adding: “True statesmen do not speak like that.”
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also told “Bild am Sonntag” that although Germany values freedom of expression, whoever speaks here “must respect our rules.”
Germany’s conservative union, including the CDU’s Bavarian sister-party the CSU, sharply criticized Erdogan’s comments later on Sunday.
Volker Kauder, who leads the CDU and its Bavarian sister-party the CSU in parliament, said he rejects Erdogan’s Nazi Germany comparison “in the strongest terms.”
“It is unbelievable and unacceptable that the president of a NATO member speaks about another member-state like that,” Kauder said in the ARD program “Bericht aus Berlin.” “Especially one who has considerable problems with the rule of law,” he added. Minister to speak in Cologne
After two cancellations, Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci plans to attend a referendum rally in a Cologne hotel on Sunday to gather support among expatriate Turks for the constitutional changes.
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